20 January, 2021

Bright Spots In The Woods

An unconventional community initiative is helping kids in a tribal Kerala belt to face a broader world

A maths class is on for Attappadi tribal children under Project Shine
Photograph by Minu Ittyipe
Bright Spots In The Woods

Elderly Manappe sits on the ver­andah of her home in Thekkupana hamlet, clutching a bag of beans that she has foraged in the wild terrain of her native Att­appadi tribal belt. She isn’t sure of her age. “I have no education,” she says with a resigned sigh, and gesticulates with her thumb to explain that she uses it for everything, including voting since her youth.

Times are anyway changing. Winds of learning are shaking up laidback Atta­ppadi, propelling the hilly stretch of eastern Palakkad to newer vistas. Not knowing one’s age will soon be a thing of the past. Behind Manappe’s home is a sign of it: there resides Kalliamma and Nagappan, who have three children. One of the kids, Rangappan, is 10 and attends the weekend class of Pro­ject Shine.

That is the name of a scheme training tribal chi­l­dren below the age of 12 to appear for a national-level entrance exams for admissions to Sainik and Jawa­har Navodaya Vidya­laya schools. Kalli­amma comes down from the forested hill, with a heavy bundle of...



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